Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

State of GA About to Execute Probably Innocent Man!

The above Youtube video was a joint project of the U.S. section of Amnesty International and the Indie Rock group, State Radio.  It details the story of Troy Davis. Davis was convicted of murdering a police officer  18 years ago, but, in the meantime, the case against him has fallen apart.  Seven 7) of the nine state witnesses against Davis have recanted their testimony and implicated one of the remaining two witnesses as the actual murderer. 

On 16 April 2009, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected Davis’ appeal for a new trial. His appeal was based on a simple fact:  No  court has yet to hold ANY evidentiary hearing on the the new evidence of tainted testimony.  In U.S. law after an initial trial has found someone guilty, the burden of proof shifts. One is now legally guilty.  Most appeals can only be made on the basis of technical improprieties in the original case (and then conservatives yell about people “getting off on a technicality”).  The majority of the justices who rejected Davis’ appeal expressed regret that they felt constrained by procedural rules! (A major reason for abolishing the death penalty.)

The GA Clemency Board can still intervene as can Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA).  Contact Gov. Perdue and urge clemency for Troy Davis. Urge Gov. Perdue not to risk executing an innocent  man.

In other death penalty news, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) of New Mexico, a devout Catholic, met with the Pope on 16 April. The Vatican and the Italian people are some of the strongest opponents of the death penalty (although this is a change in Catholic thought since the Second Vatican Council; prior to this the Church had been a strong proponent of the death penalty since at least the 4th C.). Gov. Richardson, who recently signed legislation abolishing capital punishment in New Mexico (the 2nd U.S. state to abolish the death penalty in the past 2 years–with several more having pending legislation), was honored by the lighting of the Roman Coliseum.  This Protestant hasn’t been as fond of this particular pope, but I am glad that the Catholic Church continues to push for global abolition of the death penalty.  I hope this trend continues.


April 19, 2009 - Posted by | death penalty


  1. In the Davis case, I think that the only choice the Gov has is to commute the death sentence. Unfortunately, we in GA are living with a typical Republican Gov., who does little forward thinking. He is routinely corrupt and quite arrogant, as I have found from personal experience. Whether he will have the backbone to resist his extreme right-wing party or not, is up in the air.

    Comment by Ralph Reed | April 19, 2009

  2. If there is that much evidence to suggest that the man didn’t do it then death sentence needs to be stayed and a new trial ordered. Or charge the suspected killer and release the innocent man.

    Comment by Paul | April 19, 2009

  3. That’s what the appeal was attempting, Paul. It may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Ralph, I know about Perdue, but flooding his office is still our best shot right now.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 19, 2009

  4. Very similar to what’s going on in Texas it sounds like.

    Comment by Aaron | April 19, 2009

  5. Emailed Perdue. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Comment by D C Cramer | April 20, 2009

  6. Thanks for letting me know about this. Just emailed the governor asking him to ignore left wing appeals to let this guy off the hook. I feel about capital punishment the way Westmoreland-white feels about partial birth abortion. I’m for it, but I want everyone to know that I’ve really thought it through and at the end of the day made my decision in favor of execution.

    If you can kill a fetus who hasn’t even hurt anybody I don’t see why you can’t kill a murderer. Flip the switch, gov! Its a lot cheaper for the tax payers than having to pay his room and board the rest of his life.

    Who cares what the Pope thinks anyway. its not like the guy is infallible.

    Comment by Jack | April 20, 2009

  7. Jack, the point here is that even if you support capital punishment, this person may not have murdered anyone.

    I’m not Catholic and don’t believe anyone is infallible (which is another reason to be against the death penalty).

    Also, I never said that I was for “partial birth abortion.” In fact, I am against all late term abortions.

    But you do not really seek to dialogue, but just to inflame.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 20, 2009

  8. Thanks for the heads up. I wound up here via a link at DC Cramers blog. We’ve got to bring an end to the death penalty. Thanks for the link to Amnesty International.

    Comment by Steve Schuler | April 21, 2009

  9. Steve, I have been working to end the death penalty since my teens in the ’70s–long before I became a pacifist. I have written on it quite a bit and will soon post a series arguing a double case against it: 1 for Christians and 1 for a pluralistic society.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 21, 2009

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